Make this a week of awareness

Loved+ones+of+the+five+victims+of+the+Feb.+14%2C+2008%2C+shootings+put+roses+on+the+Cole+Hall+memorial+during+the+wreath-laying+ceremony+in+2013.

Loved ones of the five victims of the Feb. 14, 2008, shootings put roses on the Cole Hall memorial during the wreath-laying ceremony in 2013.

This is Part 1 in a five-part series. Read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

This Friday will mark the six-year anniversary of the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting, which left five students and the shooter dead.

Every day this week, the Northern Star Editorial Board will publish an editorial that touches on the Feb. 14 tragedy and how it has impacted the community.

This is part one in that series.

Mental health

Steven Kazmierczak, the Feb. 14, 2008, shooter, didn’t seem like a person who would open fire on a classroom.

But Kazmierczak had a history of mental illness, and such a history may be a precursor to suicide or violent activity, though not everyone — not even most people — with mental illness will engage in actions similar to Kazmierczak’s.

For that reason, awareness of mental illness and how to help the 9.6 million American adults with a serious mental illness — as estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health — needs to be emphasized this week by the NIU community.

Doing so would provide a way to honor the lives lost in the shooting and may help prevent future tragedies. Making the tragedy’s anniversary into an event that raises awareness is vital in helping NIU move forward without forgetting or dishonoring those who died.

NIU can do this by bringing in speakers, hosting group discussions and sending out emails about local counseling resources.

Everyone can be a part of this week. It’s helpful when family and friends reach out to those they think are struggling. It’s also important not to stigmatize and to remain non-judgemental.

Mental health isn’t something one should be ashamed of. Ensure those who are in need of help receive it.

This is Part 1 in a five-part series. Read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5